Greene County, Arkansas

Arkansas Bear Hunter
A. J. Smith


One of the greatest sources of information concerning the early days 
of Greene Co., AR  is Goodspeed's History of Greene County, Arkansas


Goodspeed's History of the county contains many interesting stories of pioneer personalities .Among the most unusual is A. J. Smith , known as "the great Arkansas bear hunter " settled near the Bradshaw's and married into their family. He subsequently located and cleared up a farm a few miles east of the present town of Paragould , where he lived until his character in all of Northeast Arkansas , possessing many of the traits of the famous Col . Davy Crockett . He was a veritable backwoodsman , not accustomed to the finer comforts of advanced civilization . he owned slaves , raised large numbers of cattle undoubtedly killed more wild animals than any other man in the state . He usually went bareheaded and bare footed with his collar opened and and sleeves rolled up and nearly always carried with him his rifle , shot pouch and large hunting knife . Upon his appearance in this plight he was much feared especially by those not acquainted with him. He was however kind and brave, generous , and had but few enemies, being a firm friend to those he respected , but a dangerous man in a quarrel.

On one occasion after having sold a herd of cattle to Gov. "Jack Drew" he went equipped as usual to the governor's residence to collect his pay. The governor happened to be absent . He was met at the door by Mrs. Drew , who though much frightened invited him to step in and take a seat by the fire . He looked down and said he did not like "to step on that quilt" . the carpet being loose he took it by the edge , folded it over and then sprang across and took a chair near the fire . Mrs. Drew felt convinced that her unwelcome guest was a horse thief , and thereupon had his horse put into the stable and locked, knowing that her husband would return soon. On seeing the latter she went out to meet him , and related the appearance of the mysterious stranger, whereupon , the governor with a hearty laugh replied "O ! that is Jack Smith ,it's just like him.

Angeline , his wife was an excellent shot with the rifle and often accompanied him on his hunting excursions .Once while returning home upon a trail , desiring to "prowl around a little longer ", requested his companion not to wait for him. Accordingly she rode on, but had not gone far until the dogs - remaining with Jack - chased up a huge bear , pursuing it so closely that it stopped and turned its back against the roots of a fallen tree and began to cuff the dogs right and left. Jack ran to their assistance , whereupon the bear, having cowed the dogs, sprang forward and rushed upon him. Jack in retreating stumbled and fell . Just at the critical moment , Angeline , who had heard the confusion , wheeled her steed about took deliberate aim and shot and killed the monster beast, thus saving her husband 's life . Ever thereafter upon relating this incident, he never failed to declare that Angeline was the best woman ever created.

The great hunter generally wore "buckskin breeches." He was of a humorous disposition , and on one occasion was visited by a party of well dressed gentleman from Memphis , who upon seeing a large  quanity of peltry he had on hand , asked how he came to be so successful in hunting . His reply was that formerly , when dressed in his buckskin trousers and other outfit , the animals especially the deer, had become so well acquainted with him that they knew him by sight , and were always on the outlook for him for him , in consequence of which he could not get near enough to shoot them. It then occurred to him , that he must change his garb , and thus deceive the animals . So now , he said that upon approaching a herd of deer , the sentinel buck seeing him would inform the rest that there was no danger. That it was only some finely dressed gentleman from Memphis , who was harmless. In this way he claimed to delude the deer, succeeding in killing a great many. the numerous eccentricities, bear and deed hunts and the like of this famous hunter, if compiled would make an interesting book on frontier life.



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